It may only be the tenth most populous state and a pivotal place in the history of the automobile industry, but Michigan still manages to have the highest average car insurance rates in the nation. The variety of coverage types mandated by the state plays a part, as does a high in-state vehicle theft rate—even 7 times the national average in Detroit. The perils of driving in lake-effect snow coming off the Great Lakes contributes, as well.
While many factors drive up rates in Michigan, and the state’s auto insurance rules are unique and a bit confusing (especially if you’re new to the state), SmartFinancial is here to help. We walk you through the basics of what you need to know below, and our unbiased, carrier-neutral information makes it easy to hone in on the right coverage at the right price.
With potentially high premiums on the line, choosing the right car insurance carrier is crucial. Start by looking at Michigan’s top three auto insurance companies (see the full list).
Car insurance rates are determined by a number of risk factors, such as your driving record, geographic area, age, gender, marital status, annual mileage, credit history, prior coverage, and the age, make, and model of your vehicle.
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We don’t mean to sound pessimistic, but accidents happen. No matter how safe and responsible a driver you are, sometimes circumstances are beyond your control. That’s why they call them “accidents.” Your car insurance coverage protects you from ending up on the hook for expenses like vehicle repair costs, medical bills, and lost wages. It’s an important—and legally mandated—safeguard.
Michigan Driving Safety
In 2015, a traffic collision was reported every 1 minute and 46 seconds. Driver error is the primary cause of most crashes, according to the Michigan Department of State Police, although other factors are often at play. Even if you have a history of safe driving, it doesn’t mean other motorist share your regard for traffic laws and safety. Always drive defensively and carry as much insurance coverage as you can afford.
Let’s look at a few key Michigan safety statistics:
Michigan offers financial incentives to be a little more eco-friendly as you drive. These can be a positive way to help preserve the environment while offsetting those above-average insurance rates.
Some of the state’s green-driver incentives include:
Consumers Energy and Indiana Michigan Power both offer local customers incentives for switching to plug-in electric vehicles. One incentive that can save green drivers a good amount of money is reduced PEV charging rates for charging at low-demand times. Rebates for owning a plug-in vehicle may also be available to customers.
Michigan is one state that does not test emissions for vehicle registration, but most cars must undergo an inspection. On the other hand, AFVs are exempt from inspection. Vehicles that may qualify for this exemption include those using compressed natural gas, electricity, diesel fuel, and propane.
Although there are no state-level tax incentives in Michigan, residents may qualify for federal tax breaks if they own a hybrid, electric vehicle, diesel, plug-in hybrid, or alternative fuel vehicle. Additionally, many Michigan auto insurance providers offer discounts to drivers of eco-friendly cars, as well as to those who buy economy cars or drive very little each year.
Michigan is a no-fault state, requiring drivers to carry no-fault insurance. Michigan’s no-fault policy provides wage-loss benefits up to three years, unlimited medical and rehabilitation benefits, and $20 per day for replacement services if you’re injured in a collision. The state is unique in that the no-fault policy also covers damage to vehicles.
Michigan’s basic no-fault policy includes minimum amounts of coverage of $20,000 of bodily injury for each person hurt or killed in an accident, $40,000 for two or more people hurt or killed in an accident, and $10,000 for property damage in another state. However, that $10,000 in property damage liability coverage only applies to out of state claims.
Property damage that occurs inside the state is covered by property protection insurance (PPI). Michigan drivers are required to carry $1,000,000 PPI coverage. Additionally, drivers must carry PIP insurance to pay for medical expenses following a car accident. Residents can coordinate PIP insurance with health insurance, which may reduce insurance premiums.
Maximum payment for serious or permanent injury or death to a single person
Maximum payment for serious or permanent injury or death to multiple people
Maximum payment for all damaged property in an another state
Although Michigan law does not require collision and comprehensive insurance, lenders generally require it before financing a vehicle. These optional coverages also provide extra financial protection in the event of an accident. If you need additional coverage to satisfy your lender or for peace of mind, factor in the extra cost when calculating the price of your loan.
Optional coverages are those added to a policy to provide additional protection. They are not required by law. Some exclusions will apply.
Shop smarter for car insurance by reading over our post 11 Mistakes People Make When Shopping for Auto Insurance.
*This list is based on the ratings for the North-Central region of the United States in the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Auto Insurance Study. Consumer ratings are derived from five crucial customer service areas: price, claims, interaction, policy offerings, and billing. USAA is a military-only option and is therefore not including in the above rankings.
Michigan law requires children under 4 years to ride in an approved car seat in the back seat. This only applies to vehicles with a back seat. If all back seats are occupied by children younger than 4 years, a child of this age may ride in a car seat in the front seat of the vehicle. If the child is in a rear-facing car seat, the airbag must be turned off for the child to ride in the front.
All children must be properly restrained in a car seat or booster seat until they reach 8 years of age or 4′ 9″ tall, whichever comes first. No-back booster seats are recommended for motor vehicles with a headrest, while high-back booster seats are recommended for vehicles without a headrest. Booster seats should never be used with a lap belt only.
Always follow manufacturer instructions when installing and using car seats, and keep in mind that the back seat is safest for children under 12 years of age due to the risk of injury from airbag deployment.
For more information on transporting children safely, please refer to the Michigan State Police website.
Michigan law states that it is illegal to leave a child unattended in a car for any length of time or under any circumstance that poses an unreasonable risk of injury or harm to the child. People doing so are guilty of a misdemeanor and may face up to 93 days in jail and a fine of up to $500, or both.
If the child is harmed, imprisonment may last up to 1 year and the fine may double. If serious harm comes to an unattended child, the violation becomes a felony and is punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000, or both. Death of a child is punishable by up to 15 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
Michigan considers a child to be a minor of less than 6 years of age. However, leaving a child of any age (or a pet) unsupervised in a vehicle can have serious consequences. The temperature inside a parked car can increase rapidly, posing a risk of brain damage and death. And, even though older children may be able to escape a hot vehicle, they are still at increased risk of accidental injury or stranger violence.
Yes. Insurance companies use your credit score to evaluate your risk of filing a claim. It is generally combined with other factors, such as driving record, type of car, and location to determine your insurance score and premium.
Insurance companies in Michigan may offer a discount to good drivers. Motorist without a moving violation or at-fault accident during the past three years typically meet the criteria for good or safe driver discounts. Additionally, Michigan drivers may qualify for a variety of other discounts, including:
Yes, Michigan drivers can use their phone or other mobile device to show proof of insurance when pulled over.
You’re required to carry auto insurance in Michigan. Coverage lapses can result in misdemeanor charges, fines of up to $500, license suspension, jail for up to one year, and more.
It’s illegal to operate a vehicle in Michigan with the following BAC percentages:
.08%+ for 21 years old or older
.04%+ for commercial vehicle drivers
.02%+ for under 21 years old
Michigan has various types of DUI charges, including Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI), Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), Under Age 21 Operating with Any Bodily Alcohol Content (Zero Tolerance), and Operating with Any Presence of a Schedule 1 Drug or Cocaine (OWPD).
If stopped by an officer who suspects you’re driving while impaired or intoxicated, you may be asked to undergo a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT). Failure to take this test can result in a civil infraction charge and a fine of $150 plus court costs. If you’re under 21, you’ll also have 2 points added to your record.
If arrested, you’re required to undergo a chemical test to measure your BAC and the presence of drugs in your system. Like most states, Michigan has an Implied Consent law that states all drivers have given consent to a chemical test. If you refuse this test, you may receive 6 points on your license, which will be suspended.
Michigan’s DUI laws require courts to decide court cases within 77 days of arrest and mandate a 6-month suspension of driving privileges, even following a first conviction. Additional penalties may include up to 1 year of jail time, community service, successful completion of a rehabilitation program, installation of an ignition interlock device, and various fines and fees. If you cause harm or death while driving under the influence, the penalties are much more severe.
Driver improvement courses can help keep your insurance premiums low by preventing points from being assessed on your license following a violation. Some insurance companies may also offer discounts for voluntary completion of defensive driving courses.
In Michigan, your credit score is given significant weight in determining your rates, so monitor your credit report for errors and work to raise a low score or maintain a high one. Coordinating your health and disability benefits with your no-fault policy will reduce your insurance rates, too. In addition, maintain a clean driving record, choosing a higher deductible, and shop around for the best rates to lower your premiums.
Insured Michigan drivers must pay a fee called Michigan’s Catastrophic Claims Association fee. This unique fee makes sure that all insured drivers have unlimited medical coverage if injured in a traffic collision.
This type of coverage compensates you for excess wage loss, pain, and suffering. Uninsured motorists protects you against hit and runs and accidents with uninsured drivers. Uninsured motorist insurance is optional in Michigan, but it’s highly recommended; an estimated 1 in 5 Michigan motorists illegally drive without coverage.
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